May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness month and the Save Your Skin Foundation is encouraging residents to protect the largest organ of the body from preventable cancers.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers and one in six Canadians born in the 1990s will acquire this disease in their lifetime, explained Kathy Barnard, founder of the Save Your Skin Foundation. Furthermore, there are more cases of skin cancer detected every year than all other cancers combined.
“I know that firsthand because in 2003, I was diagnosed with the deadliest form of skin cancer: melanoma,” she told city council during its recent regular meeting.
“By 2005, it had spread and I was given six months to live. I would never have thought that my days as a child at local beaches or my days at the softball diamond would turn so deadly.”
Melanoma is the seventh most common cancer in Canada, the fourth most common among people between ages 15 to 29, and is one of the few on the rise, she continued. The major risk factors for cancer include UV radiation, sunlight, suntan beds and sunlamps.
“The skin is the largest organ of the body and what loved ones can see. Early prevention is important,” said Barnard.
Some tips to prevent skin cancer include having sunscreen on hand for unplanned outdoor activities, applying SPF 30 sunscreen even on cloudy days, wearing long sleeves and a hat, regularly checking for new moles or anything suspicious, limiting time outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and not using a tanning bed.
People between ages 20 and 40 should see a doctor every three years for a skin examination, while those over 40 should have yearly skin examinations.
“If you see something suspicious, see a doctor right away,” said Barnard. “I would hope you (city council) could consider sun safety in all your design plans in the community moving forward.”
The Save Your Skin Foundation is a not-for-profit organization Barnard founded in 2006. Its goals focus on education, advocacy and awareness across the country.
Visit saveyourskin.ca for further information.
The next regular council meeting is Monday, June 13.